Thursday, June 10, 2010

Spain's Moorish Heritage

Today was dedicated almost entirely to the Alhambra in Granada. The large palace along with separate prince's quarters and sprawling gardens sit atop a large hill/mountain overlooking the rest of Granada. Here we were to study the sequence of spaces in both the gardens and main palace.
The gardens were fairly formally laid out with axes and several different kinds of hedges, trees, etc. to divide up the space, creating room-like spaces within the garden.
Next we visited the main palace which was spectacular-probably one of my favorite things we've seen on this trip. Room after room was decorated with these very three-dimensional tiles that often had Arabic incorporated into them-the text becoming decoration, the decoration becoming the text. The palace is also laid out like no other palace I've seen-its almost like a maze where the interior spaces aren't the final destination, but the outdoor courtyards are. There's a definite sense of dramaticism to the space-hallways give you a peak of the larger space lying just ahead but with no clue as to how to get there. After a series of twists and turns, your patience is rewarded and you are released into the space you have longed to see. The ultimate reward comes at the end when a tiered walkway gives spectacular views of all of Granada.

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